Outside of Billie Eilish, no L.A. artist had a bigger 2019 than the duo Emotional Oranges. At this time last year, they’d released just two singles and hadn’t yet played a live show. Now, authors of two long EPs, “The Juice: Vol. I” and “The Juice: Vol. II,” they’ve garnered millions of streams online and toured the world giving sold-out (or nearly so) shows. And in April, they will play Coachella.
They’ve done so under the cloak of anonymity — yes, for a year they’ve gotten away with the tired gambit of the “mystery identity artist” employed by the likes of Elohim and those lovable Newbury Park lads, the Neighbourhood. “We wanted our identity to be the characters that we’ve created a world for — the lyrics, production, art, the way we roll out music and engage with the fans,” Emotional Oranges told Billboard, one of a number of major outlets to play along with their game.
Playing lickspittle aside, the duo of Azad Naficy and Kelly Valentina Porter probably would have become modern pop darlings without the game of cloak-and-dagger, based on their bona fides. Rapper-songwriter-producer Naficy — aka Azad / Azad Right — had released two albums by the time he joined Mind of a Genius Records as VP and eventually co-founded his own Avant Garden Records. Porter, as Vali, had released singles of her own (including this 2017 bop) and has a history as a performer and collaborator (dating back to her days with Wiz Khalifa).
With a group of collaborators including songwriter Mitchell Ryan Bell (THEY., Zhu.), singer-songwriter-producer William Leong (Kwaye, Iamnotshane, Shoffy), songwriter-producer Yonatan Ayal (Allie X, Tayla Parks, Chloe x Halle) and engineer Daniel Braunstein, Emotional Oranges have honed in on the production-saturated music — can we call it “algo-rhythm & blues?” — currently at the center of pop’s zeitgeist.
Love gained, love lost and the crossed wires of relationships — they’re all there, cooed and pillow-talked, within the touches of funk, jazz and hip-hop glistening off “The Juice’s” sheen. In the most sultry of manners, they’ve elbowed their way into a world of playlists teeming with the likes of Frank Ocean, The Weeknd and Disclosure. Their Coachella set — which one would hope would be in the evening — figures to attract a legion of Ocean fans, looking for another way to channel their orange. And get real close.
Via social media, Emotional Oranges say that “Vol. III” is one the way.
||| Stream: Three favorites from “The Juice” EPs — “West Coast Love,” “Motion” and “Sundays”
||| Also: Stream “The Juice” EPs in their entirety